Alright, the music on this one (“Jaan Pehechaan Ho” by Mohammed Rafi) feels a bit more “Jazz Age” (as in the 1920s) than “60s Modernist”, but the visuals and vague “plot” in this installation of Heineken’s series with bands feels very Casino Royale and farcical. It was definitely storyboarded and directed by someone who has a genuine love of the famous Bond parody, and the more Absurdist qualities of the canon Bond films, as well as other mid-to-late 1960s farces. For this reason alone, I find it superior to The Entrance and The Switch, which feel far more general as an homage to a style and genre rather than a clear send-up of something more specific.
This one even has a “making of” short, available on the HeinekenUSA YouTube:
The Boy Friend is probably Ken Russell’s best musical. Modified from the original stage script from 1954 (which was a comic send-up of Rodgers & hart’s 1926 musical The Girl Friend) to be presented in a similar “play within the film” format Russell revisited with Salome’s Last Dance from 1988, though this is far more complex. Set at an unspecified year (though judging from the clothing and such, I’d guess about 1926-28-ish for the approximate date Russell was going for), it’s generally pretty accurate as a tribute to the Jazz Age and the height of Art Deco popularity in design and costuming.
Thoroughly Modern Millie is cute, but very much anachronistic of the 1960s, visually, in ways that make Russell’s film clearly superior. I swear, half these costumes are modified from Mary Quant designs —which would be a good thing, if making a film about 1967 (the year of its release), but not for a film set in 1922. The women’s hair is all 1960s. The men’s hair is all 1960s. Unlike The Boy Friend, at least half of the music is taken from the 1910s and 1920s (though some from later than 1922), but performed in a manner closer to 1960s tastes.
All in all, I like both films, but for different reasons. Julie Andrews clearly is the better singer/dancer/actress than Twiggy, Millie is lighter and more overtly comedic and more specifically spoofing nostalgic and modern sentiments, which is certainly better suited to certain moods (though in general, I tend to prefer “artier” and more serious fare, even in comedies), and Carol Channing is always memorable and entertaining. On the other hand, Ken Russell did his homework for the look and feel of the Boyfriend, and while clearly making the story more complex and serious, also created the superior atmosphere for a genuine tribute to the 1920s. It’s the difference between “film as art” and “film as broadly humorous commentary”, and overall, both hold up pretty well, but by personal opinion, I think Russell’s film is better, cos it’s closer to my own personal tastes.